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ICORR'07 - 10th international conference on rehabilitation robotics


Professor Homayoon Kazerooni

University of California-Berkeley

BLEEX: Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton

In October 2003, the first functional load-bearing and energetically autonomous exoskeleton, called the Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX) was demonstrated, walking at the average speed of two miles per hour while carrying 75 pounds of load. BLEEX augments human strength and endurance during locomotion; it is comprised of two powered anthropomorphic legs, a power unit, and a backpack-like frame on which a variety of heavy loads can be mounted. The project tackled four technologies: the exoskeleton architectural design, a control algorithm, a body LAN to host the control algorithm, and an on-board power unit to power the actuators, sensors and the computers.

BLEEX2, completed in 2005, is able to carry 150 pounds at the speed of 5 miles per hour. Its unique design offers an ergonomic, highly maneuverable, robust, lightweight, and durable outfit to transcend typical human limitations. The controller almost destabilizes the system since it leads to an overall loop gain slightly smaller than unity and results in a large sensitivity to all wearer's forces and torques thereby allowing the exoskeleton to shadow its wearer. Couple of these exoskeletons was experimentally evaluated in Flat Iron Mountains in Colorado for its effectiveness.

BLEEX2 has numerous applications: it can provide soldiers, disaster relief workers, wildfire fighters, and other emergency personnel the ability to carry major loads such as food, rescue equipment, first-aid supplies, communications gear, and weaponry without the strain typically associated with demanding labor. The technologies and the prototypes developed in this project can be adapted for design of rehabilitation devices, prostheses and orthoses. This plenary talk gives a summary of the technical challenges on the control algorithm; biomimetic design; power source, and actuation system of BLEEX.


Dr. Homayoon Kazerooni holds a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and is currently a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Kazerooni is the director of the Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory. He has published over one hundred sixty articles on Robotics, Human Machine Systems, Control Sciences, Artificial Locomotion, Assist Devices, Power and Propulsion and Mechatronics. He is the holder of fourteen pertinent patents. His research activities at Berkeley are focused on the design and control of all class of robotic systems. In particular he has developed the foundation for the design and control of orthotic exoskeleton systems worn by humans to augment and alter human mechanical strength and capability, while the wearer's intellect remains the central control system for manipulating the robot. In his research work at Berkeley, he has separated the technology associated with human power augmentation into lower extremity exoskeletons and upper extremity exoskeletons. The results of his work on upper extremity augmentation have led to design of Intelligent Assist Devices that are currently used worldwide in manufacturing facilities by workers. Dr. Kazerooni is currently directing several research projects on lower extremity exoskeleton systems for rehabilitation.

Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn

University of Hertfortshire, UK

Just Child’s Play? – Applications of Robot Assisted Play in Autism Therapy

My talk will address research in robot child interactions in the particular context of autism therapy. As part of the Aurora project (, we have been using since 1997 different robot designs, ranging from mobile platforms to humanoids, in order to encourage children with autism to play. I will argue that play is an important part of every child’s life, and has at least three key aspects: a) enjoyment, which in itself can contribute to the quality of life of children with special needs, b) learning, where children learn in a constructive manner through play, ranging from object manipulation to pretend and imaginative play, and, last by not least c) social interaction and communication whereby robots can take the role of mediators helping a child to make contact to other children or adults. The role of the robot as a social mediator between the child and other people has been one particular focus of recent work in the Aurora project and also plays a key element in the European project IROMEC. My talk will discuss different types of children’s play and how this may be addressed in scenarios involving children and robots. I will survey our research in the Aurora project with children with autism and emphasize how the robot may encourage social interaction skills, imitation and joint attention in children with autism. The talk will highlight achievements, challenges and limitations of the work that need to be addressed in future work.


  • Prof. Dr. Kerstin Dautenhahn
  • Research Professor in Artificial Intelligence
  • Adaptive Systems Research Group
  • School of Computer Science, University of Hertfordshire, UK

Prof. Dr. Kerstin Dautenhahn is Research Professor in the School of Computer Science at University of Hertfordshire in U.K. where she coordinates the Adaptive Systems Research Group. She received her Ph.D. degree from the Biological Cybernetics Department of the University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany, in 1993. She has published more than 100 research articles on social robotics, robot learning, human-robot interaction and assistive technology. Prof. Dautenhahn has edited several books and frequently organizes international conferences. For example, she hosted the AISB’05 convention with the general theme of “Social Intelligence and Interaction in Animals, Robots and Agents”, and was general Chair of IEEE RO-MAN 2006 with the general theme of “Getting to Know Socially Intelligent Robots”. She will be a general chair of the ACM/IEEE conference HRI’08. She is involved in several European projects on developmental robotics, robot companions, educational virtual environments, and assistive technology. Prof. Dautenhahn is Editor in Chief of the journal Interaction Studies: Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems.

Professor Frans van der Helm

Delft University of Technology, NL

Diagnostic Robotics: Robot manipulators for quantifying position, velocity and force reflex gains.

Humans show highly adaptive behavior, switching rapidly from position tasks to force control tasks. Model simulations and experiments show that this is achieved by modulating the reflex gains for the position and velocity feedback loops (through muscle spindles and Ia and II afferents) and for the force feedback loops (through Golgi tendon organs and Ib afferents). There is a strong interaction between the position, velocity and force feedback loops in position and force tasks.

In our laboratory, force controlled robot manipulators have been developed for identification of the reflexive feedback loops. The robot manipulators are very powerful, and capable of imposing force perturbations on human. The combination of force-controlled and force perturbations results in the requirement for much power. Using advanced closed-loop system identification techniques the muscle stiffness and viscosity, but also the position, velocity and force feedback gains can be estimated.

Humans modulate their reflexive feedback gains rapidly, depending for instance on the environment (mass, damping), frequency content of the perturbations and task instruction. Recordings on CVA patients with spasticity showed that they were still capable of modulating their reflex gains (no hyperreflexia!) and maintained even a higher stability margin. CRPS patients showed that they were not capable of generating negative feedback gains, maybe due to deficient inhibitory interneuronal pathways. In the future, diagnostic robots might be useful tools for diagnosis, monitoring progress and assessing the effect of medication.

Insight in the modulation of reflex gains is very important for the rehabilitation of patients with neurological disorders. On the one hand, quantitative measures have been obtained, which can be used to assess the effectiveness of neurorehabilitation robots. On the other hand, it shows how subjects and patients react to different environments, which might help to specify the level of support imposed on patients.


  • Prof. Frans van der Helm, PhD
  • Biorobotics and Biomechatronics Group
  • Department of Biomechanical Engineering
  • Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering
  • Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

Prof. dr. Frans C. T. van der Helm is professor in Biomechatronics and Bio-robotics (0.8 fte at Delft, and 0.2 fte at the University of Twente), and is head of the dept. of Biomechanical Engineering. He has a MSc in Human Movement Science (1985), and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering (1991). He is member of the board of the International Society of Biomechanics (ISB), and participates in the board of the Technical Group of Computer Simulation (TGCS) and the International Shoulder Group (ISG). He is one of programme leaders in the Delft Center on Biomedical Engineering. He is Principal Investigator in the TREND research consortium, investigating Complex Regional Pain Syndrome as a neurological disorder. He has published over 100 papers in international journals on topics as biomechanics of the upper and lower extremity, neuromuscular control, eye biomechanics, pelvic floor biomechanics, human motion control, posture stability, etc.

2006 ICORR2007. All rights reserved
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